Ed Davey, Liberal Democrat MP for Kingston, has shocked students by backing down from pre-election vow to oppose any rise in tuition fees.
In the run-up to last May’s general election Mr Davey signed an NUS pledge which stated: ‘I pledge to vote against any increase in fees in the next parliament and to pressure the government to introduce a fairer alternative’.
But last week Mr Davey told students who had marched to his Surbiton offices: “I have to tell you now; I will not be standing by my pledge. Believe me, it pains me probably even more than it pains you.”
The MP, who won his seat in May with a majority of 49.7 per cent, had gone out of his way to court Kingston students before the election.
He told RiverOnline in April: “I think with tuition fees we have got a whole range of problems, the most concerning one is that when students do graduate they have a huge millstone of debt round their neck.”
Furious students slammed the local MP’s U-turn on fees. One said “Our very University degrees will be jeopardised by this. Your University degree was completely free. Do you have any idea of the amount of debt we’re going to be in?”
Another Kingston student said: “We’re just students, why should we have to pay for the recession? We didn’t get the country into this mess, why should we have to get it out?” The visibly flustered MP answered: “Cuts are happening across the board and not just in HE (Higher Education)”.
Stefan Mattison, VP of communications for Kingston Student Union, said: “We will continue to put pressure on Ed Davey. We will present him with a visual petition [emailed photos] showing him the voters he has lost by backing down on this issue.”
Mr Mattison is inviting anyone who regrets voting for Mr Davey in the last election to contact the Union office to record their visual petition.